Wednesday, September 29, 2010

on this stupid thing i'm working on

I'll call it Project: Frankenstein. This is the short story I want to submit, due Friday. I started it last night. This is foolish!

The structure of this story is a guy telling a story to his friends. I'm trying to decide: once he starts telling the story should I keep it in third-person, so the reader "sees" the story from a birds-eye view, or shift to first person so the reader remains aware that a story is being told by this character. Both options feel right, and both options feel wrong.

Monday, September 27, 2010


In April I heard about an anthology that was accepting submissions for short stories. The project has a theme that is very specific yet allows for a broad range of possibilities. I thought up a story idea and decided that by gum I was going to get something completed and submitted.

I just remembered that the deadline is Friday and I haven't started yet. I better get going.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

on words

I really hate the word aforementioned. I hear it a lot in blogs, usually in critical pieces. Everyone quit using that word k?

on just typing already

Okay I'm going to call this thing I've been working on Project SHK. Today I got 1347 words, which is pretty good. How many of them survive from the first draft to the second? Who knows. Probably many of the words will survive, but will be placed in a different order and context.

I heard a guy call into the Diane Rehm show, I don't even remember the topic but he was talking about how he wanted to write a book and said "I almost have it all worked out in my head and once I do then I can start writing." Dude, that's not how it works. None of the words I wrote today were planned out in advance. I had a vague idea about three characters that I was going to introduce, but once I started typing they turned out very different from the ideas I'd already had. I also introduced a group of characters I'd never even thought of before and took the plot for this chapter in a different direction than I'd planned.

Again, who knows if any of this will stick, but the point is that these ideas came to life on the page, not in my head. That brings me around to one of my favorite quotes about writing, from Merlin Mann, "You can write you way out of a thinking block but you can never think your way out of a writing block." I keep that at the forefront of my mind because in my case it couldn't be more true.

on definitions

Writing is writing. Reading a message board about a popular fantasy book series is not writing.

Just needed to remind myself of that.

on revision

I didn't write anything new today, but I have half of a Chapter One sitting around and I needed to change it so it takes place in the morning instead of the afternoon. It needed to be done.

Revision is scary though, and will lure you in like a seasonal frogurt. It's common to have one really polished first chapter and nothing else. Ask me about my other story sometime, the one I've been working on since 2004. Chapters One and Two are tight, yo! Chapter Three does not yet exist.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

on writing but not on being stephen king

I guess I've always wanted to be a writer.

That's a lie!

I've always wanted to be a story teller. I cleaned out some old shit stored under the porch the other day and found stories written in my (only slightly less legible than now) six-year old handwriting. I was always writing and drawing, and throughout elementary school devoted a lot of time to making little comic-strips. I've wanted to be a cartoonist, film-maker, comic-book writer, novelist, memoirist, journalist. I've never bothered to focus on any one thing, or do the required hard work. If there's any advice you hear from anyone anywhere who is successful in anything, it's that you have to be devoted and you have to work hard. I don't do that. That's why I'm such a failure.

We're getting sidetracked.

My first semester of college I took a fiction writing class. I wrote a short story about a fellow that quits law school to pursue a career as a professional wrestler. I wrote a poem about echinacea that was pretty good. I wrote a lot of crap too. A lot of crap. On the last day Professor Gargoyle took my aside and said "Don't stop writing. You have a gift. Don't stop."

So I stopped and never took another writing class again. If 1998 Bryton could see me now!

I made a few films in college. I think they're pretty good actually. Though I kind of cringe when I watch them now and wish I could make changes to them. I finally found my story-telling niche in the early 2000s with message boards and then later, blogs. That sounds ridiculous. It is.

If you've ever read my main blog, Microsuede, you know what I'm all about. I like to tell stories about things that happened. I particularly love to dramatize the mundane and make say, a trip to the grocery store sound like a trip to a really awesome grocery store.

Writing has always come easy to me. Don't confuse what I'm saying here. I'm not saying that I'm good at it, that I'm some sort of natural born wordsmith, just that when I finally do sit down and write it feels effortless to me. Because of that, I feel like writing is what I'm supposed to do. It's the only time I do anything where I feel totally comfortable doing it. Like when Aquaman goes to the beach.

When I start writing, whether it's a blog post or a story or whatever, it feels like I'm not even doing anything. Even this post right now. My fingers are moving and that's it. I'm not even thinking. I feel like the words are already out there and I'm just making sure they get recorded into some kind of medium. Does that happen to you? I bet it does.

Writing is also a compulsion with me. If I go a few days without writing anything I feel this tension (in addition to my usual tension) that is only resolved when I finally start plunking away on the laptop.

I don't have a job anymore and I'm having a hard time finding a new one. Get this: apparently the economy is really bad right now. Since my film studies degree is without value and my years of call-center experience can only get me another job in a call-center (or in my case, CAN'T get me a job in a call-center) I'm seeing writing as my only way out. Desperate, back-to-the-wall, all that. I'm working on a novel. Four novels actually. In between I write little one-page short stories. Oh and a couple of comic book scripts that if I ever finish I want Matt Page to illustrate.

When I say, even to myself, that I'm "working on a novel" I cringe inside. I might as well say "I'm having a midlife crisis" or "I just bought Writing for Dummies." But hey. Someone is writing novels, right? People are getting published. Stephanie Fucking Meyer is scrapbooking happily right this very minute. It can be done. People can write novels. I can do it if I try, right?

So I've gotta try. I have nothing but free time. Hanging out is all I do. I can write 400 words a day. I can write 1600 words a day. Maybe more if the holy ghost moves me so. I'm going to update this blog every day to hold myself accountable, even if no one reads it. Okay. Time to do some real writing.

on on spilled ink

Okay that's better. Wow the new Blogger layout design is nice. I wish I'd had these tools back in the heady days of Microsuede.

on spilled ink

The layout of this blog is terrible. It hurts my eyes.

this blog is called spilled ink

I started a writing blog. It's all about writing. Read it or don't. It's probably just going to be self-indulgent garbage that no one cares about but sometimes I need to warm up my fingers.